Friday, July 6, 2012

New World Heritage sites

Congratulations to the 26 newly inscribed World Heritage sites as this year's World Heritage Committee meeting wraps up in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Among the new sites is Canada's first new site in five years, the Landscape of Grand Pré, in Nova Scotia. The cultural landscape site bears witness to the development of agricultural farmland by Acadians in the seventeenth century and is a memorial to their way of life and tragic deportation at the hands of the British in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.

The Landscape of Grand Pré now joins 15 other World Heritage sites in Canada. The full list of new sites can be found here.

The Committee also adopted a decision strongly condemning the terrible desecration of heritage sites in Timbuktu, Mali at the hands of armed Islamic rebels. It called on all stakeholders to mobilise against such action and called for an end to these "repulsive acts". Hopefully, the situation will stabilise before further destruction is wrought on these shrines and monuments dating from as far back as the thirteenth century.

New sites 2012
Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia)
Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal)
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine)
Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal)
Gonbad-e Qābus (Iran)
Landscape of Grand Pré (Canada)
Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany)
Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan (Iran)
Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey)
Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France)
Rabat, modern capital and historic city: a shared heritage (Morocco)
Site of Xanadu (China)
Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves (Israel)
Chengjiang Fossil Site (China)
Lakes of Ounianga (Chad)
Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation)
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau)
Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia)
Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Sweden)
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia, Spain)
Historic town of Grand-Bassam (Côte d'Ivoire)
Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium)
Pearling, testimony of an island economy (Bahrain)
Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea (Brazil)
Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo)
Western Ghats (India)

I hope the trend of increasingly longer site names comes to an end with the almost preposterous "Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy". The earliest sites had names like "Galápagos Islands", "Chartres Cathedral", and "Persepolis". A long name almost does the site a disservice as people will most certainly get the name wrong and create confusion about the importance of the thing being protected. "Chengjiang Fossil Site", now there's a nice, short, effective name that spells out where and what it is. Let's hope for more like that in the future!

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